Laura Ingalls Wilder-ness

This posted started with an unwieldy title: Things That Happen When You Go Home for a Week. Then I hit on this new one, which made me feel clever. You be the judge.

I’ve spent the last 7 days in Upstate New York with my parents, which I realize now I still consider "home" even though this is the longest span of time I’ve been here since college winter breaks. It’s the house where I spent ages 12 - 18 and the place I’ve come back to for all those red letter occasions – Thanksgiving, wedding showers, birthdays. I just feel different and comfortable in my hometown - where things change, but simultaneously remain unchanged - in a way that I don't feel other places. My lovely and talented friend, Kate Racculia, has written about how even on the radio it feels perpetually like 1994 here in the best possible way.

Being in my parents' house where the walls are hung with my grandmother’s paintings, the Internets are still found in cords instead of in the airwaves, and books published by Harper and Brothers in 1956 still wear their paper dust jackets with pride has reminded me of a few things.

One – I might be less citified than I realized. Since I’ve been here I’ve carried wood, built fires, dug multiple cars out of 12” of snow, shoveled steps, and made chicken stew with mashed potatoes. The surprising part is that I didn’t mind at all. It was actually kind of fun and gave me a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps I’m channeling my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder? Also, I know why gyms didn’t exist back in the day. Physical labor = no guilt over a chocolate chip cookie at the end of the night.

Two – walking a dog in the country is a whole different story than walking a dog in the city. My parents’ house sits on several acres of land, most of which slopes down a hill that seems gentle until it’s time to hike back up. Woof. My walks with Maddie-pup have taken a more adventurous turn as we shuffle through the drifts exploring the various animal tracks and enjoying the bright sunshine shimmering on the snow. So different from New York where an elevator and 12 floors stand between us and the outdoors.

Three – on a serious note: it is possible to detox from Pinterest. Not totally pleasant, but possible. Oh trust me, I plan to return to my Pinterest bingeing ways A.S.A.P., and I hope never to do this again, but it is still comforting to know the possibility exists.

Have you ever been back on your old stomping grounds and had a moment of clarity about your roots?

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All Images: Laura Messersmith